The curriculum has been carefully crafted to ensure a balanced coverage of core and foundation subjects. We believe that our children engage better with contextual learning and thus, have developed an immersive approach to teaching and learning. This methodology to teaching is parallel to the way in which children learn in Jewish Studies (Kodesh) lessons where the children are always immersed in a rich text imbued with meaning.
As a Jewish school, we recognise Kodesh as a core subject and dedicate part of our curriculum to instilling Jewish values and preparing our children to be responsible and caring citizens. Giving tzedakah (charity), visiting the sick and elderly, working with charities that care for those in need or the disabled enrich our children’s lives and develop their moral compass for adulthood. Celebrating Shabbat and learning about festivals in school develop a love of Torah, which we aim to enhance through music and art. Each festival provides opportunities for art whereby the children create a piece of artwork which is not only artistic, but is also meaningful – something they are proud to take home and discuss with their family. Oneg Shabbos and regular Hebrew singing lessons foster a deep spiritual connection that we hope will remain with our children for life. Daily Tefillah also provides the children with a time to connect to Hashem – a time for mindfulness - which is hugely beneficial in deepening their thinking with regard to improving their mutual respect and tolerance of others.
Children write daily across a range of text types – fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Alongside the quality text studied, children are immersed in the focus text type, exposing them to the language and structural features of this. Equipping children with the skills to identify, analyse and write varying text types enables them to write for a range of audience and purposes, as well as developing an awareness of this. The quality text is matched to the half-termly humanities units of work, providing the children with a continual point of reference as well as opportunities to gain further knowledge. The pinnacle of our topic is for our children to enjoy a thematic outing e.g. museums, workshops and outdoor experiences. At BSPS, we believe that preparing and learning for a focus trip enriches their cultural experiences. To complement this, we invite guest speakers to share first-hand knowledge on a range of topics e.g. Holocaust survivor.
We aspire for children to develop deeper thinking skills in order to refine their work; editing and proofreading is paramount to this. Through self-assessment and peer-assessment, children are encouraged to evaluate their work, building resilience and writing stamina. This process is enhanced through author visits during our annual Book Week – an opportunity for children to be inspired by real-life writers – combined with the myriad of texts on sale at our Book Fair.
At Beit Shvidler, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is crucial for academic success and consequently, ensure that we have a holistic approach to the teaching of this. Children’s exposure to texts begins at nursery where they are read picture books daily. As children progress from EYFS to KS1, our children are familiar with a range of texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these.
All classrooms are equipped with age-appropriate book corners that offers an array of texts for children to borrow. These books are often linked to the topic that is being taught which offers additional opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum. Moreover, we have created a Magical Reading Garden – an outdoor library – to encourage a love of reading, which is always accessible outside of lessons.
We have a strong home/school reading programme in place in EYFS and KS1 to support children with their reading. Children in Reception and KS1 are given colour-banded books to take home from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme.
Alongside reading their class text, children from Y2 and above, have a weekly comprehension lesson where they are taught discrete skills – fact retrieval; prediction; inference and deduction; understanding words; identifying the main idea; concluding and summarising; and evaluation. In EYFS and Y1, children are read to daily by their class teacher. This could be a book that the teacher recommends to the class or a recommendation from a child. This once again enables the children to be immersed in a variety of age-appropriate books. During this time, the teachers questions the children with a focus on prediction, inference and deduction as well as identifying the main idea.
Our reading curriculum is designed with the aim that our children leave Beit Shvidler as competent readers who have a thirst for a range of genres, and ultimately, a true affinity with books.
Phonics is a key part of the curriculum at Beit Shvidler. Integral to our phonics teaching is the Read Write Inc scheme, however, we have adapted it to meet the needs of our children. Both in Reception and Year One, phonics is fully integrated across all areas of the curriculum. The building blocks are set in Nursery in readiness to start the formal phonic teaching in Reception.
In Nursery, the children are exposed to the idea of different sounds in our environment, using multisensory activities and active learning through actions, stories and songs. The lessons are all child focused and creative to introduce the children to the first steps of systematic synthetic phonics through play.
Reception follows the main format of the Read Write Inc programme. We teach them the alphabetic code (set 1) and to blend these sounds into words (real and alien words), before we move on to set 2. The children learn to write the sounds and words and start forming sentences. The children learn actions to go with each grapheme to help the kinaesthetic learners. These actions are used when the children identify the sound when reading or writing in both Reception and Year One. Early in the Reception year the children are exposed to “tricky (red) words” that cannot be decoded. Lots of emphasis is placed on consolidating set 1 and set 2 sounds to ensure they are secure in their knowledge for Year One. Regular meetings are held in the summer term between the Reception and Year One teachers to ensure a smooth transition for September.
Read Write Inc is continued in Year One which ensures consistency of phonics teaching. Furthermore, we continue to work on tricky and alien words to move on the children’s learning. In addition, we focus on alternative graphemes and how to make sensible choices in our writing. Continual assessment takes place to promote positive learning outcomes, set at the correct speed for each child. With this knowledge, we set up early interventions to provide additional support.
We have employed ‘Power Maths’ in Beit Shvidler starting from September 2019. This is a whole-class, textbook-based mastery resource that empowers every child to understand and succeed in Maths. At the heart of Power Maths is a clearly structured teaching and learning process that helps us make certain that the children master each maths concept securely and deeply. For each year group (Rec-Year6), the curriculum is broken down into core concepts, taught in units. A unit divides into smaller learning steps – lessons. Step by step, strong foundations of cumulative knowledge and understanding are built. Arithmetic, reasoning and problem solving skills are taught alongside each other.
Unlike most other subjects, maths comprises a wide array of abstract concepts. By taking a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (C-P-A) approach, Power Maths allows children to tackle concepts in a tangible and more comfortable way. Manipulatives are used throughout the school with more emphasis in KS1 and early KS2.
Just as prescribed in the National Curriculum, the goal of Power Maths is never to accelerate through a topic but rather to gain a clear, deep and broad understanding. Since maths competence depends on mastering concepts one-by-one in a logical progression, it is important that no gaps in understanding are ever left unfilled. Same-day interventions – either within or after a lesson – are a crucial safety net for any child who has not fully made the small step covered that day. In other words, intervention is always about keeping up, not catching up, so that every child has the skills and understanding they need to tackle the next lesson.
Similarly, confident learners will be challenged through exposure to unfamiliar problems, development of reasoning skills and by exploring multiple ways to manipulate numbers and solve problems with deeper understanding. This inclusive approach allows all children to achieve, with concepts being revisited at higher levels as the curriculum spirals through the years.
Lessons are focused on building a healthy culture of ‘maths talk’ which empowers learning from day one. When children learn to talk purposefully together about maths, barriers of fear and anxiety are broken down and they grow in confidence, skills and understanding. Explanation and discussion are integral to the Power Maths structure.
In order to promote enquiry and investigation further, we have implemented Switched on Science – a curriculum that combines hands on science and practical knowledge, ensuring our children leave primary school equipped with core scientific facts, methods and skills alongside an excitement and curiosity for the subject. Developing children’s enthusiasm for science is imperative to us, and thus we encourage our children to observe the natural and man-made world around them, forming questions and generating discussion. Our annual science week generates further enthusiasm as children conduct a variety of more thrilling experiments and participate in externally-led workshops.
Each year group are exposed to six half-termly topics, with the aim being for children to develop a secure understanding of each block of knowledge and concepts before progressing to the next stage. Through practical experimentation, our children are given the opportunity to explore and investigate, considering how to apply their results to everyday life. As with all areas of our curriculum, we endeavour for science to be all-encompassing, encouraging our children to make links and form conclusions about the wider world.
Humanities topics are taught alongside a set of skills which progress through the year groups. Our curriculum is designed for children to accumulate a range of skills across history and geography namely: chronology, map skills, enquiry and depth of knowledge.
Formulating perceptive questions is inherent in our Jewish history learning and we encourage the children to emulate this in secular history lessons, in order to inspire curiosity about the past. In order to develop their curiosity about the world, we use maps and atlases as a starting point to deepen their locational knowledge. The rationale behind using a quality text in English lessons, which relates to the chosen humanities topic, is to fully engage and immerse children in a topic or theme, in order to generate enthusiasm and encourage knowledge-sharing across lessons.
We understand the immense value technology plays not only in supporting the Computing curriculum but also in the world we live in today. Technology is rapidly advancing and thus, we must develop children who are both technologically-astute as well as enthuse and equip them with the capability to use technology throughout their lives. Furthermore, we endeavour to hone in on the wider opportunities that Computing can provide: enhanced collaborative learning; better engagement of pupils and development of critical thinking and reflective learning skills.
In order to address these aims, we have chosen the Purple Mash Computing Scheme of Work from Reception to Year 6. The scheme of work ensures delivery of engaging lessons, which help to raise standards and allow all pupils to achieve to their full potential. We are confident that this carefully crafted scheme of work expertly meets the national vision for Computing, providing immense flexibility and strong cross-curricular links.
Our curriculum offers progression across three main strands: computer science, information technology and digital literacy. In EYFS, this begins with a broad, play-based experience of Computing in a range of contexts, allowing our children to explore the technology around them. This is developed into understanding, writing and testing programs together with using search technologies effectively.
Whilst we are aware that the Internet is an exceptional tool for learning, creativity and engagement, we are conscious of the challenges it can present. We therefore address these via teaching an e-safety unit to each year group as well as using external agencies such as Streetwise and NSPCC to emphasise the message in assemblies and workshops.
The music curriculum has been carefully designed to develop the children’s skills in the areas of performing, composing and listening and to enhance their understanding of the musical elements. Sometimes projects will link to topics that the children are learning about in class or the festivals around the Jewish year, but always with the intention of building their musical abilities and encouraging the exploration of any themes in a fresh, musical way.
At EYFS, a huge emphasis is placed upon feeling the pulse, as this forms the basis of many of the more complex skills the children will learn further up the school. Music lessons at this stage are mostly based around songs which the children learn to sing and then add instruments and/or actions to enhance musical expression. Children also learn what the school percussion instruments are, what they sound like, how they feel to play and what their names are. They work at learning to play and stop in the right places and how to make patterns of sounds. There is plenty of movement at this stage to encourage children to feel the music in their bodies.
At KS1, the skills learned in Early Years are built upon with simple composition, often using graphic scores with shapes and pictures, to enable children to begin to think about connecting what they see with what they hear. The musical elements are constantly reinforced to allow them to become familiar with musical terminology, and different sessions of each project link to different elements to allow children to explore these more fully. They learn to play the instruments with more deliberation rather than just making the sounds.
In lower KS2, children develop all of these skills. They learn simple rhythm notation and begin to understand how pitch can be written down. They explore the timbres of the instruments in a more complex way, creating thoughtful music around different themes and looking at how choosing different instruments creates different effects. At upper KS2, the children focus on different topics to develop their understanding of different types of music. In Y5, one topic studied is the Blues – the history, the style and structure. They learn to play, sing and improvise on a 12-bar blues and then they write their own verses and perform the whole piece together as a class. In Y6, they explore film music – how it works and how and why it is so effective. Then they try composing their own. Y6 also learn about Samba – what it is, how it is structured, and then the class becomes a Samba band and performs a piece in assembly. They learn to work together as a team to produce an end result and to respect each other by listening critically and commenting on music created by different groups.
Art & DT are taught cross-curricularly based around our humanities themes. We have developed a progression of skills derived from the National Curriculum focusing on six main areas: drawing, colour, texture, form, printing, and pattern.
IVRIT (Modern Foreign Language)
Our Ivrit curriculum is designed with careful regard to progression as the children go through the school. This includes an increase in the amount and complexity of language which children can understand and use. We expect to see an increasing confidence in children’s understanding and use of language. Children have increased speed and fluency of response and we ensure prior vocabulary is re-uses in different contexts and topics.
The Ivrit curriculum focuses on spoken and conversational Ivrit. The Hebrew reading and writing is learnt in Kodesh lessons. Our Ivrit curriculum includes graduated study units dealing with a variety of topics. From Year 3 onwards, we use the Ivrit Beclick scheme of work developed by Matach, The Centre for Educational Technology in Israel. Each class receives one lesson of Ivrit per week. We have introduced formal assessments from Year 3 onwards at the end of each unit so we can more closely monitor Ivrit teaching and learning. For each unit, the children are expected to know basic vocabulary but as their grammar and sentence structure develops in Key Stage 2, they are expected to be able to use their vocabulary in sentences.